Missoula flood assessment underway; Clark Fork expected to rise again

Posted at 10:36 AM, May 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-22 12:36:56-04

MISSOULA – Missoula County Search and Rescue crews have taken to the Clark Fork River to check out structures that experienced flooding in the Orchard Homes area.

The team will be looking at high water marks and other indicators to begin the initial damage assessment required for homes in the floodplain. However, authorities are stressing that this does not indicate we have reached the recovery stage of this spring’s flood event.

Crews will start assessing other areas impacted by overland flooding in the Missoula area over the next few weeks, including homes along Harpers Bridge Road and Mallard Way.

Residents affected by overland flooding can call the floodplain administrator at (406) 258-4841 to request an assessment.

Approximately 65 homes in Missoula County are still under modified evacuation orders.

The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office has temporarily modified its evacuation order to allow homeowners access to their property which will let affected residents to return to their homes without checking in and out at roadblocks. Authorities point out that the change is not intended for homeowners to re-inhabit the property or start recovery efforts. 

River levels are expected to rise again within the next several days and residents should not plan to stay in their homes overnight and should stay alert of any changes to ensure safety.

Road patrols are still assigned to the affected flood area with authorities saying that roadblocks will be re-established as conditions warrant. It should be noted that nobody under the age of 18 is allowed on the property while the order is in effect.

The Missoula City-County Public Health, in cooperation with Care Van, will provide a free immunization clinic from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday for all residents affected by flooding and volunteers who have helped with flood-relief efforts.

The mobile clinic, which will offer tetanus (Td/Tdap) vaccinations, will be located at the Wheat Montana parking lot on the corner of Reserve and Third streets. Contact (406) 258-4987 for more information.

The water level on the Clark Fork River above Missoula dipped to 10.5 feet on Tuesday morning and remains in minor flood stage. However, the current forecasts predict the water will begin to rise again, reaching moderate flood stage around midnight on Wednesday.

The current forecasts predict it to rise to over 12 feet later this week and remain there for some time. The most up-to-date river forecasts are available here. Residents in flood-prone areas should remain alert to changes in conditions. 

A flood information line at (406) 258-INFO is being staffed from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Callers will hear an updated recording after hours. The public information trailer at the Wheat Montana parking lot is not currently in operation due to low traffic volume. 

The Clark Fork River from the Reserve Street Bridge to Kona Bridge remains closed until further notice due to dangers caused by downed power lines in the river and high water levels full of hazardous debris. The closure applies to all water-based recreation, including, but not limited to: wading, swimming, fishing, floating, boating.

A modified evacuation order remains in effect for the following areas:

  • Tower Street, north of 3rd Street
  • Kehrwald Drive
  • Channel Drive
  • Nancy Lou Drive
  • Keck Street and Stone Street – north of Flamingo Drive
  • Schmidt Road
  • Off Mullan Road
  • South Harpers Bridge Road
  • Hamel Road
  • Under the Reserve Street Bridge

Road Closures:

  • Tower Street closed to all traffic, north of 3rd Street
  • Nancy Lou Drive closed to all traffic
  • Stone Street north of Flamingo Drive closed to all traffic
  • Schmidt Road closed to all traffic
  • Harpers Bridge Road closed to all traffic
  • Hamel Road closed to all traffic
  • Short Street (and connectors) open to local traffic only
  • Preston Street (and connectors) open to local traffic only
  • Hiberta Street north of 3rd Street open to local traffic only
  • Stonybrook Drive open to local traffic only
  • River Road west of Reserve open to local traffic only